Local writer debuts queer-centric compilation 

Local writer debuts queer-centric compilation 

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Although it won’t publish in time for beach-reading season, Carmen Maria Machado’s debut book is still set to make a splash.

While “Her Body and Other Parties” is the first published book for the queer 31-year-old, she already has an impressive list of writing accolades: Her writing has appeared in New Yorker, NPR and other national publications and she has been included in “Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy” and other short-stories collections — not to mention a number of fellowships and residencies, including as Artist in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Her Body and Other Parties” is a collection of short stories she wrote from 2011-15.

“It’s a pretty long span of work,” the West Philadelphia resident said, noting the book also spans many genres. “It’s a mixture of science-fiction, a lot of nebulous speculative fiction, liminal fantasy, horror. It runs the gamut of genres.”

Despite the diversity, a number of themes thread the stories together, Machado noted, like queerness, the female body, mental illness, abuse and sexual desire. 

She said she would characterize “Her Body and Other Parties” as a “queer book,” though she approached the topic in a way she has long sought from works of fiction. 

“I so rarely find queer narratives, so I wanted to create a collection about women who are queer that’s not about them coming out; being queer is just part of who they are. That’s what I wanted to see,” she said. “I also thought a lot about the liminality of queerness — being in this nebulous space of desire and on the fringe of societal acceptance struggling to find your place in society, in the world, in your own life and in your own community.”

With “Her Body and Other Parties” set to publish Oct. 3, Machado is gearing up for a book tour that will kick off in Philadelphia. 

And she’s already looking ahead to her next book, “House in Indiana,” her memoir that’s set to publish in 2019. Both are being published by Graywolf Press.

“Short stories are hard to sell and it’s rare you’ll get a publisher who’s really excited about publishing just your short stories but Graywolf has been amazing, really incredible,” Machado said, noting Graywolf was equally eager to publish her memoir. “[‘House in Indiana’] is weirdly structured and it’s a niche topic but they were stoked to work with me again. The memoir is about same-sex abuse and domestic violence; again, it’s a book I looked for and couldn’t find.

“Write the stories you want to see in the world,” Machado advised emerging writers. “If you don’t see them, make them.” 

For more information on Carmen Maria Machado, visit www.carmenmariamachado.com.

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